Getting 3.5 yr old to occupy herself?? Or what other ideas? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 02-05-2009, 10:37 PM - Thread Starter
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DD1 is 3.5 years old. Her sister, DD2, is 7 months old. I'm going batty!

The baby has been sick on and off since the new year. It has been hard to get her to sleep for any long periods of time. I feel like I spend a good portion of my day trying to get her to sleep.

But the hard part is keeping my older DD occupied while I tuck the baby in. I NEED YOUR WISDOM! Sometimes DD1 will play quietly by herself for the time it takes me to get the baby settled. But increasingly she can't seem to do that. The problems we have include her not playing by herself, if I leave her alone she will make a lot of noise, she'll come into the room where the baby is and talk loudly saying "Mama I neeeeeed you" etc OR she'll come snuggle with us, which used to work, but now she wriggles around or makes a lot of noise.

How do other mamas deal with a bored 3-4 yr old when the baby needs quiet attention? I know what she needs is attention, we've had the discussion that as soon as the baby sleeps I'm all hers - and I've made a point to show her that. But it seems to be getting worse. My temper has been flaring and I hate that nap time for the baby ends up in mommy angry and DD1 upset and NO ONE sleeping!!

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#2 of 6 Old 02-05-2009, 11:03 PM
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That is what I save video's for... My dd turned 3 in October, and I have a 14 month old. It is probably not what you wanted to hear, but Sesame Street or Curious George or Winnie the Poo keeps her attention. I give her a handful of playdough and either turn on PBS or pop in a video and she lets me put the little guy for a nap.
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#3 of 6 Old 02-06-2009, 12:36 AM
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OK, you want foolproof? Videos/tv and a snack to munch. Sorry, that's what I've been doing for naps about 85% of the time, ever since ds2 needed quiet for getting to sleep.

But - there are other substitutes that also sometimes work for ds1. He'll just as happily, and for longer stretches, play computer games. Noggin, Curious George games, Sesame Street games, etc. Sometimes I give him the choice of computer or tv and he chooses computer. But I do explain to him (he knows by now though) that if something goes wrong on the computer and he can't find his way back to his games, he still needs to do something quiet until I come down. And I do let him turn on the tv.

Sometimes a new favorite CD and access to the controls - and he's happy with that until I come down. More so recently, the last couple months, he can engage in a book for the whole time, but that's pretty rare.

AND - I have been known to reward him with a treat (cookie or animal crackers, or chocolate milk, etc.) if he was quiet and waited until I came downstairs. One time recently I came down to find that the power in the house went out while he was watching TV. He got a book and just waited for me, no yelling or anything. That boy earned himself some ice cream that day!

I don't do the rewards much anymore. He's matured a bit over the past year, and has gotten used to the routine by now - ds2 is 2yo now, after all!
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#4 of 6 Old 02-06-2009, 12:58 AM
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PBS kids. Hey, they're educational.

I have a 3.5 y/o and a 8 mo old. Seriously, when the baby needs to nap I do what I have to do. But even that's not foolproof so I have his Imaginext castle and pirate ship and a bunch of Playmobile guys on the floor close to the bed. He knows he *must* play silently, and sometimes he actually does. When the baby needs to nap I'll ask him, "Do you want to come in with me and play quietly or stay here and watch tv?" That stopped the climbing into bed/bumping into the bed/asking me if the baby was asleep yet/asking me if he was talking quietly enough etc. torment that we were going through prior to that.

I've found 3.5 to be a pretty clingy time for DS1 and inviting him to join us (playing on the floor) while I nurse DS2 to sleep has made a difference in his behavior--he's more willing to wait and less likely to create a commotion.
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#5 of 6 Old 02-06-2009, 01:27 PM
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The little Leap Pad by Leap Frog also may come in handy. It "reads" the book when the child touches the words on the page, and every picture makes some kind of sound. My 3.5 yo DD can go for a pretty long stretch with that keeping her entertained.

Leslie, mommy to DS (5) and DD (3)

Leslie, Mommy to DS(8) and DD(almost 6) :

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#6 of 6 Old 02-06-2009, 05:49 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the responses. They are very helpful. DD used to be good at this - I was so glad! But with the baby being sick a lot recently I think it has just been too much attention on the baby and not enough attention on DD1.

Originally Posted by newbymom05 View Post
the climbing into bed/bumping into the bed/asking me if the baby was asleep yet/asking me if he was talking quietly enough etc. torment that we were going through

That's exactly how it is in our house. And "torment" is a perfect word for it. Oh! NOTHING gets me as worked up as when I'm trying to get the baby to sleep and things interrupt that.
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